Audible’s iTunes exclusivity ends following antitrust pushback in Europe

Since 2003, Amazon-owned Audible has been the sole proprietor of audiobook on iTunes, a deal that has ruffled plenty of publishing feathers and raised some antitrust red flags around the world.

According to The European Commission, the two tech giants have agreed to put an end to their exclusivity agreement, opening up iTunes to content from other third-party providers.

The move comes as both the Commission and the German Federal Cartel Office have increased scrutiny of the deal, following complaints by German book publishers, among others. At the time, Amazon/iTunes made up somewhere in the range of 90-percent of all audiobook downloads in the country.

The Commission issued a statement lauding the joint decision, set to increase competition in the space,

On 5 January 2017, Audible and Apple agreed to remove all exclusivity obligations governing the supply and distribution of audiobooks. These exclusivity obligations, which predated Amazon’s acquisition of Audible in 2008, required Apple to source exclusively from Audible and Audible not to supply music digital platforms other than Apple’s iTunes store.

As a result, German antitrust regulator Bundeskartellamt has officially closed proceedings against Amazon and Apple. Here’s what the group’s president Andreas Mundt had to say about the decision,

This will enable a wider range of offer and lower prices for consumers. After conducting intensive market investigations and due to the close cooperation with the European Commission in this case, the Bundeskartellamt was able to close these proceedings without a formal decision.

It’s not entirely clear how the deal will play out in the rest of the world.